Improved access to healthy food in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities
The Australian government is investing $40.9 million over ten years expanding its “stores licensing scheme” to improve access to healthy food in the Northern Territory.
Stores licensing, as part of Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory, is being expanded to include all stores outside of major centres that service Aboriginal communities, including not just the stores located in or close to Aboriginal communities.
Under the changes, the Northern Territory is defined as a “food security area” outside major centres that are specifically excluded. The changes mean stores in the food security area will need a licence to operate if they are an important source of food, drink or grocery items to an Aboriginal community.
The Federal Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin said that the store licensing expansion will focus on promotion of the importance of healthy food.
“Aboriginal people have told us that store licensing has improved the quality and availability of fresh, healthy food, and is having a positive impact on their communities,” Ms Macklin said.
The Minister for Indigenous Health Warren Snowdon said that a survey released last year showed Aboriginal people said that children are now healthier, happier and more active than three years ago.
“The Government wants to continue to improve the availability of fresh and healthy food in stores, as well as help stores to be sustainable by improving governance and retail practices,” Mr Snowdon said.
The new scheme will support stores to meet the requirements of store licensing. This may include things like providing financial support where necessary to improve storage, make essential repairs and install systems to help keep track of stock and sales.
The Government will also work with the committees of Aboriginal-owned stores and support them to provide strong governance and leadership for their stores.